Category winner:
TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B

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This case won the Marketing category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021. #CaseAwards2021

 
The case

Tom TomWho – the protagonists

Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom, former head of TomTom’s Consumer division, and currently head of TomTom’s Group Strategy.

What?

TomTom is a Dutch software technology company. Although best known for its portable navigation device (PND), TomTom is now generating more than half of its revenues from location and navigation technology development, licensing and sales to automotive and hi-tech companies.

Why?

Constant disruption in hi-tech industries has forced TomTom to reinvent itself over and over again, initially through developing hardware and direct-to-consumer sales for its navigation software, then more recently, by refocusing on its expansive technology base to become a B2B navigation technologies market leader for automotive and hi-tech businesses.

Renault dashboardGoogle's intrusion into TomTom's automotive space, through Google's recent win of a major automotive contract with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, is TomTom's newest challenge.

When?

The case is set on 18 September 2018, the day when TomTom lost 25% of its share value following Google's announcement that they would be supplying Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's infotainment and navigation systems.

Where?

TomTom's global headquarters is in Amsterdam, but the company has offices in 35 countries and nearly 5000 employees.

Key quote

Corinne“The business is no longer only for consumers but mainly for B2B. The association of a consumer brand of the business is so strong that we also have to find new ways of talking to our customers and showcasing our technologies. It’s quite complex. How do you explain those technologies in the way that people can understand exactly what we do? That's probably the biggest challenge." – Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom.

What next?

People love debating the future of mobility and the exciting changes taking place in the automotive industry. Which companies will emerge as the winners, or losers, in the transition to self-driving, electric vehicles? Both the traditional automotive manufacturers, as well as the largest tech firms, such as Google, Uber and Apple, are all positioning themselves for a stake in the new market.

Additionally, tech firms have repeatedly demonstrated that they can upend traditional industries faster than anyone ever thought possible. TomTom has cutting edge technologies in HD mapping, location, navigation, and traffic information, but its presence among automotive and tech giants poses huge challenges – and opportunities.

 
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TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B
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The case is supported by a dedicated website, which hosts multimedia material and teaching presentation slides to compliment the case itself.

The authors

authors

Steven Sweldens, Stefano Puntoni, Niela Kleinsmith, Tao Yue and Matthieu Campion

This case won the Outstanding Case Writer competition in 2020.

The jewel in the crown

Steven began: “We were over the moon last year when our case won The Case Centre’s Outstanding Case Writer Competition as we found it a fantastic recognition of the quality of the case we wrote. However, to win the award for most popular new case in Marketing one year later is the jewel in the crown. Our case being used by so many instructors and schools across the world is the greatest recognition for our work that we could dream of.”

Tom TomEmotionally appealing

Matthieu commented: “The TomTom brand enjoys amazing awareness, especially in Europe but also in North America, albeit to a lesser extent. And it is associated with such positive perceptions: a simple, affordable, but nevertheless very smart solution to a really thorny issue absolutely everyone has been faced with at some point, and which can trigger a very high emotional load. So, both the pain it solved and the feelings it triggered when solving it, makes it a strong brand linked with strong emotions, therefore making the case more emotionally appealing and engaging.”

Filling a gap

Steven added: “The vast majority of branding-related cases are in B2C and consumer goods, because most of the exciting and well-known brands are in B2C. At the same time, the majority of our MBA and other students will get jobs in B2B oriented companies and services, as they make up more than two thirds of the economy. Hence, we and our students felt there’s a clear disconnect between the marketing cases we offer and the ones the students really need. This case was designed to fill that gap.”

Female protagonist

Steven continued: “Corinne Vigreux is one of the most established female leaders in the technology landscape and serves as a point of inspiration for women globally, in a sector that has traditionally been challenging for women to break into senior positions. And again, we saw a mismatch between existing cases, the vast majority of which feature male role models and protagonists, and our target audience, which generally consists of 30-70% of women in our classrooms. We believe Corinne Vigreux can serve as an inspiration point for female technology entrepreneurs globally, and hope our case putting a spotlight on a female tech champion can play a small part in that process.”

Writing the caseWriting the case

Steven explained: “During the writing process, the case kept evolving until the very end. Changes are taking place quickly in this industry, which explains why the case is so exciting, but which also poses a challenge when writing a case discussion which should be interesting for a couple of years to come.”

Tao concludes: “My top tip is be sure to get a good team together that has the academic and practical knowledge as well as case writing/storytelling skills. Carry through and don’t stop at producing just the PDFs. Try to incorporate supporting materials (e.g. videos, exercise, etc.) to enrich the learning experience.

About the authors

Steven Sweldens is Professor of Consumer Behavior and Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
e sweldens@rsm.nl

Stefano Puntoni is Professor of Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
e spuntoni@rsm.nl

Niela Kleinsmith was a Senior Case Writer at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University when the case was written. She is currently preparing for medical school.
e kleinsmith_niela@hotmail.com

Tao Yue is Managing Editor at the Rotterdam School of Management Case Development Centre.
e tyue@rsm.nl
tw @yue_tao

Matthieu Campion is the General Manager – Electric Vehicle Business at Mitsubishi Motors Europe. He was Head of Corporate Marketing Communications at TomTom when the case was written.
e matthieu_campion@hotmail.com

 
Instructor viewpoint

Discover how this case works in the classroom.

Mignon Reyneke“It is rare to find a case that incorporates the tensions between the B2B and B2C parts of a business and managing both these markets for one organisation. The TomTom case provides a very good opportunity for students to explore this. It can be approached from many angles e.g. business strategy, but also from a marketing perspective in terms of branding and consumer behaviour, which I found particularly useful.

"The case also highlights the growth journey of the organisation, which makes for a very useful class discussion and adds some great complexity to the case."

Mignon Reyneke, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business University of Cape Town. 

 

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